November 10, 2010
By Alton K. Marsh
Usually “long and distinguished” is just a platitude rustled up at retirement time to describe someone’s career, but Burt Rutan really did have a long career, and as the world knows, a distinguished one.
Rutan, the founder of Scaled Composites at Mojave, Calif., has decided to retire next April after 36 years of designing aircraft—including the nation’s first passenger spaceship.
Prior to forming the Rutan Aircraft Factory in 1974, he was a flight test engineer for the Air Force. His factory developed experimental homebuilt aircraft for builders. Rutan will assume the title of founder and chairman emeritus of Scaled Composites.
Nearly all his 45-year career was spent in California’s Antelope Valley. He gave up day-to-day responsibilities in 2008 following open-heart surgery. Rutan’s company designed SpaceShipOne that successfully achieved repeated suborbital flights in 2004, and won the $10 million Ansari X Prize. A second-generation spaceship is in development that will take tourists on a brief suborbital flight for the company Virgin Galactic.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) has awarded its third annual Flight Training Excellence Awards to top flight schools and flight instructors ranked by more than 3,600 flight students who voluntarily reviewed their flight training experience through an AOPA online poll.
For decades, pilots have headed to Bay Bridge Airport in the Chesapeake Bay for scenic coastal flying and great seafood. Check it out after attending the AOPA Homecoming Fly-In on Oct. 4.
Maintenance experts have asked the FAA to clarify whether recurring inspections of Cessna 210-series aircraft can be mandated without following required rulemaking procedures.
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